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01-Cover 5/8/03 4:26 PM Page 1

U.S. Department of Justice
National Institute of Corrections

WORKBOOK

FOR

JAILS
Second Edition

01-Cover 5/8/03 4:26 PM Page 2

U.S. Department of Justice
National Institute of Corrections
320 First Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20534

Morris L. Thigpen, Director
Virginia A. Hutchinson, Chief, Jails Division
Alan L. Richardson, Project Manager

National Institute of Corrections
World Wide Web Site
http://www.nicic.org

Staffing Analysis Workbook for Jails
Second Edition

Dennis R. Liebert and Rod Miller
March 2003 (second printing)

This document was prepared under cooperative agreement number 99J06GIK3 from the National Institute of
Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions stated in this document are those of the authors
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Copyright 2001, Dennis R. Liebert and Rod Miller
The authors authorize reproduction of all or any part of this copyrighted material if appropriate attribution is given
and if the material is not sold for a profit.
The National Institute of Corrections reserves the right to reproduce, publish, translate, or otherwise use and to
authorize others to publish and use all or any part of the copyrighted material contained in this publication.

Foreword
This second edition of the Staffing Analysis Workbook
for Jails updates the edition published by the National
Institute of Corrections (NIC) in 1988 to help improve
jail operations by improving staffing practices. Since
that time, the workbook has become a cornerstone of
NIC’s training and technical assistance activities related to jail staffing.
Many legitimate methods can be used to conduct a
jail staffing analysis. The first edition of this workbook presented a new methodology in an attempt to
allow both the expert and the novice equal opportunities for success. It encouraged more jails to implement comprehensive staffing analyses, which have
now become standard practice in many jurisdictions.
This workbook simplifies the jail staffing analysis
and allocation process, clarifies terms, and incorporates the experience of the field in the 12 years since
the first edition was published.

While the procedures may initially seem complicated,
experience has proven that the process is effective
and rewarding. Jail managers have also discovered
many secondary benefits from this process.
NIC will continue to address jail staffing issues
through training offered by the NIC Jails and
Academy Divisions and through technical assistance. We hope this “how to” workbook will assist
others who wish to independently pursue improvements in their jail staffing practices. We invite all
jail practitioners involved in this work to contact
the NIC Jails Division for additional assistance if
needed.
Morris L. Thigpen, Director
National Institute of Corrections

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

iii

Preface
Jail staffing challenges administrators, staff, and policymakers and poses a variety of serious problems.
Staffing a jail is expensive. In many jails, staff costs
can make up 70 percent to 80 percent of the annual
budget. Such a costly resource must be carefully managed, and assessing staff needs and allocating staff
in a jail setting are complex tasks. This workbook
attempts to simplify the process wherever possible.
The publication was developed to help improve jail
operations by improving jail staffing practices. It identifies a series of steps that build on one another to
produce a comprehensive and innovative staffing
plan. Users will find the workbook helpful in the
following situations:
■

■

■

Creating an initial staffing plan for a new facility
or conducting a comprehensive staffing analysis for
the first time.
Reviewing and evaluating an existing staffing plan.
Revising an existing plan in response to changes at
the facility or in policy.

Good staffing plans and practices go a long way toward
achieving the jail’s most important mandate: providing
safety for staff, the public, and inmates. Good staffing
improves a jail’s ability to provide programs and services, decreases potential liability, and helps ensure that
costly staff resources are used in the most efficient way.
The main difference between the approach presented
in this workbook and earlier staffing analysis methodologies is that the method described here quantifies
staffing on an hourly basis, rather than on a shift
basis. Unlike jail practices of 10 years ago, many jails
now operate with a variety of shift schedules; a jail
may have 8-, 10-, and 12-hour shifts; overlapping
shifts; and “power” shifts. Because of this diversity,
the amount of time each staff person works in a year
should be analyzed in hours.
The Introduction of this workbook discusses the elements of a staffing analysis, describes the benefits

derived from a comprehensive analysis, and sets the
stage for using the workbook. It provides an
overview of staffing issues, including the following:
■

Identifying staffing problems common to many
jails.

■

Detailing overtime usage and its causes.

■

Identifying unique characteristics of jails.

■

Identifying who should be involved in a staffing
analysis.

The next section introduces a comprehensive 10-step
staffing analysis process that breaks the work into
manageable tasks:
1. Profiling the jail.
2. Calculating net annual work hours.
3. Developing a facility activity schedule.
4. Developing a staff coverage plan.
5. Completing a staff summary.
6. Developing a schedule.
7. Evaluating, revising, and improving the plan.
8. Calculating operational costs.
9. Preparing a report.
10. Implementing the plan and monitoring results.
Step-by-step instructions are given to guide the user
in conducting the analysis, and sample forms are provided. The appendixes provide additional material
and information:
A. Methods for optimizing staff resources.
B. A discussion of the myth of staff-to-inmate ratios.
C. Blank copies of all forms used in the analysis.
(These forms will also be available online at the NIC
Web site, www.nicic.org.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

v

D. A formula for converting net annual work hours
to a shift relief factor.
Additional resource material that supports this workbook is available from—
NIC Information Center
1860 Industrial Circle, Suite A
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 800–877–1461 or 303–682–0213
Fax: 303–682–0558
Internet: www.nicic.org
E-mail: asknicic@nicic.org

vi

The NIC Jails Division is a source of possible assistance with staffing analysis, including referral, training, and technical assistance:
NIC Jails Division
1960 Industrial Circle
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 800–995–6429 or 303–682–0382
Fax: 303–682–0469
Internet: www.nicic.org/inst/nicjails.htm

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Contents
Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
The Staffing Analysis Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Step 1. Profile the Jail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Step 2. Calculate Net Annual Work Hours. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Step 3. Develop a Facility Activity Schedule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Step 4. Develop the Staff Coverage Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Step 5. Complete a Staff Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Step 6. Develop a Schedule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Step 7. Evaluate, Revise, and Improve the Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Step 8. Calculate Operational Costs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Step 9. Prepare a Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Step 10. Implement the Plan and Monitor the Results. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Appendix A. Methods of Optimizing Staff Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Appendix B. The Myth of Staff-to-Inmate Ratios . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Appendix C. Forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Appendix D. Converting Net Annual Work Hours to a Relief Factor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

vii

Exhibits
Exhibit 1: Comprehensive 10-Step Staffing Analysis Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Exhibit 2: Sample Form A—Calculating Net Annual Work Hours . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Exhibit 3: Sample Form B—Facility Activity Schedule. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Exhibit 4: Sample Form C—Staff Coverage Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Exhibit 5: Sample Form D—Staff Summary Sheet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Exhibit 6: Descriptive Statistics for Alternative Work Schedules. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Exhibit 7: Sample Outline for a Staffing Analysis Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Exhibit A–1: Emerging Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

viii

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Introduction
Jail Staffing Issues
Staffing a jail poses many challenges and potentially
serious problems for administrators, staff, and policymakers, including the following:
■

■

Unexpected overtime costs.
Excessive amounts of compensatory time earned
by staff.

■

Overworked staff who burn out.

■

Staff turnover.

■

■

Frequent understaffing, which results in essential
posts and positions not being filled.
Inability to supervise inmates properly or provide
needed programs and services.

■

Increased incidents of assault and contraband.

■

Inability to provide required breaks for staff.

■

Lack of proper staff backup to handle emergencies.

■

Overreliance on part-time and reserve staff.

■

Inability to supervise staff properly.

■

■

Inability to provide adequate staff training, because
time cannot be scheduled.
Too few authorized full-time positions to provide
enough actual staff hours to cover jail needs.

A comprehensive staffing analysis can help solve
these and other staffing problems that jails face.

Symptoms Versus Causes:
The Overtime Example
The most common jail staffing issue centers on the
amount of overtime logged by jail staff. An examination of some of the underlying causes of excessive or
unexpected overtime reveals the need for a comprehensive staffing analysis.

1

must compensate overtime hours at 1 /2 times the
base pay rate or with paid time off (comp time) that
is earned at a similar accelerated rate.
A certain amount of staff overtime is inevitable in
jails. Sometimes staff must be asked to work beyond
their usual hours to respond to unexpected staff
shortages due to sickness or emergencies. Some jurisdictions prefer incurring higher rates of overtime to
hiring more full-time staff or operating below minimum
staffing levels. Overtime use also provides them with
a better trained and more experienced workforce
than does the alternative of using part-time staff.
Most overtime that will be required under a given
staffing structure can be predicted by anticipating problems, analyzing past practices, and making informed
calculations. Once overtime levels are predicted, proactive steps can be taken to reduce them. This staffing
analysis workbook will help jail officials, staff, and
others to—
■

Predict future staffing needs.

■

Diagnose the causes of staffing problems.

■

When viewed as a symptom of a staffing problem,
the underlying causes of overtime can be diagnosed.
Excessive overtime is often caused by one or more
of the following conditions:
■

■

■

Overtime and compensatory time (usually called
“comp time”) accrue when regular full-time staff
work additional hours, beyond their usual 40–43
hours per week. Under Federal labor laws, employers

Design better staffing practices to address future
staffing problems.

Insufficient full-time staff positions authorized in
the budget to cover basic posts and positions
(minimum staffing levels).
Inability to hire enough staff to fill all authorized
staff positions, which may be related to difficulties
in recruiting enough qualified applicants, filling
positions in a timely manner, or retaining staff.
Inaccurate staff coverage plan for the jail (an inefficient shift schedule), which produces unexpected
demands for additional staff to address basic
problems and needs.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1

■

■

■

■

Failure to anticipate situations that make full-time
staff unavailable to work their regular hours (such
as long-term disabilities, training time, and scheduled and unscheduled time off).
Failure to accurately calculate the actual number of
hours that a full-time staff member is available to
work during a year (net annual work hours).
Inmate crowding (above rated capacity); higher
custody classification of inmates than originally
planned; and increased bookings, releases, and
transports—all of which increase staffing levels
unexpectedly.
Staff-intensive programs.

When To Use This Workbook
This workbook helps officials and staff gain a better
understanding of staffing issues and develop a comprehensive staffing plan that will anticipate problems
and address the unique needs of each jail. Users will
find the workbook helpful in their efforts to—
■

■

■

■

Create an initial staffing plan for a new facility.
Conduct a comprehensive staffing analysis of an
existing facility for the first time.
Review and evaluate an existing staffing plan.
Revise an existing plan in response to facility or
policy changes.

Staffing practices respond to the total jail setting and
must be evaluated and revised when any major component of that setting changes. A staffing analysis
should be conducted under the following circumstances:
■

■

■

2

When a new facility or major renovations are being
planned and designed. Analysis should occur at
several key points during the planning and design
process (prearchitectural programming, schematic
design, design development, construction documents) and during the transition phase.
When substantial changes occur in the facility,
inmate population (such as crowding), operating
philosophy, policies, or management approaches.
When no staffing analysis of the jail has been done
before.

■

When preparing for the annual budget cycle, to
identify significant changes in the jail setting.

Benefits Derived From
Conducting a Staffing
Analysis
Staffing a jail is an expensive proposition. In many
jails, staff costs make up 70 percent to 80 percent of
the annual budget, and such a costly resource must
be carefully managed. Appendix A describes creative
practices and strategies that can increase efficiency
and effectiveness, often without adding staff.
A staffing analysis will reveal if jail staffing is deficient in any of several ways:
■

Too few staff are provided.

■

The wrong type of staff is hired or retained.

■

Staff are assigned to the wrong duties.

■

Staff are not properly trained.

■

Staff are not scheduled properly.

A well-conceived and properly implemented staffing
plan will solve these problems. Good staffing plans
and practices are important for achieving the jail’s
most important mandate: providing safety for staff,
inmates, and the public. Good staffing improves
the jail’s ability to provide programs and services,
decreases potential liability, and ensures that costly
staff resources are used in the most efficient manner.

Who Should Be Involved?
No single official or staff member can improve
staffing practices. Long-term success requires
that several stakeholders be involved, each with
meaningful opportunities to shape the staffing plan.
Participation may be secured by forming a team to
conduct the staffing analysis or by assigning the principal staffing analysis duties to a single person who
circulates findings to a larger group for review and
comment. While the latter method may prove easier,
it is not successful unless the larger group offers
comments and ideas that are considered carefully.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Many people have a stake in jail staffing practices.
Consider involving the following stakeholders in
the analysis:
■

The sheriff, correctional director, or other official
responsible for the jail.

■

Administrative and supervisory staff.

■

Line officers.

■

Program staff.

■

■

■

■

■

■

■

■

■

Contract service providers, such as health service
or food service.
Policymakers, such as commissioners, council
members, and city managers.

■

■

Budget analysts and personnel managers.
Representatives of labor organizations, such as
unions and bargaining units.
Jail inspection officials.

Participation in any form provides a way to tap the
resources and ideas of relevant parties and increase
their commitment to the process. It also increases the
likelihood of their support for the end product. For
example, if they are involved in the process and help
shape its outcomes, staff may be more cooperative
if schedules need to be changed, and budget officials
may be more easily convinced of the need for additional funds.

■

■

■

■

■

■

Characteristics of the jail setting
Jail operations have many unique characteristics:
Jails operate continuously, 24 hours per day, 365
days per year.
■
■

Jails provide a wide spectrum of services, activities,
and programs for inmates.

Many jail inmates spend only a few days in confinement. In some jails, up to 90 percent of all
inmates are released within 72 hours of admission.
Admission and release procedures require much
staff effort, but the peak periods of admission are
often difficult to anticipate.
Extensive documentation is required for all activities and procedures at the jail.
Perimeter security and internal circulation must be
controlled at all times.
Supervision needs vary for different classifications
of inmates.
Jails house both pretrial detainees and sentenced
inmates, and each group brings its own operating
imperatives and constitutional guarantees.
Staff turnover is high in many jails.
Jail staff, administrators, and funding officials can
be held liable for jail operations and conditions.

Several unique operational characteristics of the jail
setting must be considered:

Jail Characteristics and
Staffing Considerations

■

Jail populations can fluctuate widely throughout
the year, and even on a day-to-day basis.

Jail staffing considerations

■

Both the unique operational characteristics of jails and
the associated staffing requirements pose challenges.
An understanding of these challenges provides an
important foundation for undertaking the staffing
analysis process.

Jails are high-risk settings, where inmates are often
dangerous to themselves and others.

Backup must be provided for staff in all areas of
the jail. When a staff member has to respond to
problems, critical incidents, or contingencies, other
staff must be readily available to provide support.
Continuing inmate supervision should be provided
in all jails. Supervision extends beyond just observing inmates at regular intervals. Effective supervision demands contact between jail staff and inmates;
jail staff must be able to “interact” and “act.”
A constant minimum level of staffing is required
to ensure prompt and safe evacuation of the facility
during an emergency and to provide continuing
inmate supervision. Minimum staffing levels are different for each jail and may change during the year.
Electronic surveillance (audio monitors, closed-circuit
television, movement detectors, sensors) has its place—
not as a substitute for staff, but as a supplement.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

3

■

■

■

Relief must be provided for most staff posts and
positions to allow employee meals and breaks.
Staff must be trained for the duties to which they
are assigned.
Staff must be supervised. Supervisors should not be
assigned to a specific post because they must be
able to move throughout the facility to supervise
operations and respond to problems.

This workbook does not recommend staff-to-inmate
ratios, because time and experience have proven that
no ratios are applicable to every jail, even jails of the
same size. Appendix B explores this issue in greater
detail, outlining why one jail’s staffing level cannot be
easily compared with another’s and why the use of
staff-to-inmate ratios is inappropriate.

service, performance objectives, prohibited practices,
and specific required operational actions. Past court
decisions, most handed down by Federal courts, have
required jails to—
■

■

Respond to inmate calls for assistance.

■

Classify and separate inmates.

■

Ensure the safety of staff and inmates at all times.

■

■

4

Make special provisions for processing and supervising female inmates.
Ensure that all required inmate activities, services, and
programs are delivered (medical, exercise, visits, etc.).
Provide properly trained staff.

Standards promulgated at the local, State, and national
levels also provide parameters for jail operations.
■

■

■

Court decisions have defined important parameters
for jail operations by establishing minimum levels of

Maintain communication with inmates and
regularly visit occupied areas.

■

■

Jail staffing levels are based on several internal and
external factors. Internal factors include physical plant
design (sightlines, number of control posts, perimeter
security, number and size of housing units, and controlling circulation or movement—the need to escort
inmates); operational philosophy (types of inmate
supervision and level of programs and services); classification levels of the inmates; and level of crowding
in the facility. External factors influencing jail staffing
levels include court decisions and standards of practice.

Protect inmates from themselves and from other
inmates.

Local health, safety, and building standards are often
applied to jails.
Many States have established mandatory jail standards and inspect jails to measure compliance.
The American Correctional Association establishes
national professional standards for jails and offers
an accreditation process based on those standards.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Staffing Analysis Process
This section describes a step-by-step process for conducting a comprehensive staffing analysis of an existing jail or a new jail. The 10 steps are sequential and
break the staffing analysis process into manageable
tasks. Each step builds on the preceding steps. The
process should always be interactive and creative.

day off with pay no longer necessarily means 8 hours
off; it could be 10 or 12 hours, and jail administrators must fill that number of hours with other staff.
Similarly, the amount of coverage needed for a specific post and for total jail coverage should be analyzed
and expressed in hours.

Staffing analysis is not an exact science. No simple
formulas or ratios can be consistently applied to all
jails. Although some practitioners still advocate simpler approaches to staffing, those approaches are not
as responsive to the unique character of each jail as
the approach described here.

All the forms used in this workbook are based on
hours. Exhibit 1 presents the 10 steps in the staffing
analysis process and identifies the forms used at different steps. One may enter the 10-step process at
several points.

Although it will take some time to gather the indepth
information necessary to complete a thorough analysis, this process has been used with great success in
jails throughout the United States. It will take some
time to complete the first staffing analysis for a jail,
but subsequent updates and revisions will be easier.
The main difference between the approach presented
in this workbook and staffing analysis methods that
preceded it is that this process quantifies staffing on
an hourly basis, rather than on a shift basis. This
approach gives all stakeholders more flexibility and
encourages creative approaches that may lead to
more efficient and effective practices.
Unlike jail practices of 10 years ago, many jails now
operate with a variety of shift schedules; a jail may
have 8-hour, 10-hour, or 12-hour shifts; overlapping
shifts; and “power” shifts. Because of this diversity, the
amount of time that each staff person works in a year
(or is “off” in a year) should be analyzed in hours. A

■

■

Those who are conducting the first full analysis of
a facility or who are evaluating new facility plans
should begin with step 1. Completing the jail profile is an important first step for these users.
Those who are reevaluating or updating an existing
staffing plan may start with step 2, evaluating and
updating the figures based on changes that occurred
since the last staffing plan was done.

The following material is provided for each of the
10 steps of a comprehensive staffing analysis:
■

■

■

A brief narrative describing the methodology and
process for completing the step.
Instructions for completing each form.
A completed sample of each form. (Blank copies of
the forms are provided in appendix C.)

Electronic versions of the forms, and instructions for
using them, will be available online at the NIC Web
site (http://www.nicic.org).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

5

EXHIBIT 1: Comprehensive 10–Step Staffing Analysis Process

Step 1 sets the stage for the staffing analysis
process by collecting background information
about the jail.
Step 2 requires collecting and analyzing key
“time off” data that are crucial to the accuracy
of the final staffing analysis and implementation plan.
Step 3 develops a master schedule of programs,
services, and activities in the jail.
Step 4 is the first attempt to identify the posts
and positions that need coverage and the
amount of coverage needed.
Step 5 summarizes coverage needs by job
classification.
Step 6 posts the coverage needs into various
shift schedules and shift rosters.
Step 7 requires a careful evaluation of the
initial plan. If the plan is inadequate, return to
the appropriate earlier step, make improvements,
and continue through the process from that
point. Step 7 also allows others to have meaningful input into the staffing analysis process. It
is the equalizer that allows anyone to produce
a workable staffing plan. After initial deficiencies
identified in step 7 are corrected, reevaluate
the plan to ensure that corrective measures
have not introduced other deficiencies. Repeat
this step until the staffing plan is acceptable.
Step 8 requires a reality check of the budget.
The estimated cost of staffing shows the
impact the draft plan will have on the budget. If
this cost is not feasible, another round of evaluations and revisions of the plan must begin.
Step 9 is a detailed report that presents the
staffing plan and justifies the needs with data.
Step 10 is the implementation phase. After
6 months, the plan should be evaluated and
any necessary changes made.

6

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

STEP 1.

PROFILE THE JAIL

The first step is to collect jail inmate population data,
operational philosophy information (mission statement), floor plans of the facility, operational budgets,
State and professional standards, and relevant case
law. These materials need to be analyzed to describe
the physical, operational, and human context of the
jail at the time of the staffing analysis. A detailed profile of the jail setting is an essential starting point in a
comprehensive staffing analysis for either a new facility or an existing facility for which a staffing analysis
has never been done.
Although it is tempting to skip this step of the process,
this information is essential to ensure that the basis
for the staffing analysis is clear. The products may be
needed later to justify requests to funding sources, or
even in court. Subsequent staffing analyses should
include reviewing and updating this material.
The profile examines and records key features and
characteristics of the jail setting, including—
■

Facility rated capacity.

■

Average daily population for the past several years.

■

Number of admissions and releases.

■

Length of stay.

■

■

Inmate profiles (age, race, sex, residence, charge,
status—pretrial, presentencing, sentenced, hold).

■

Number and types of classifications and housing
separations.

■

Mission statement.

■

Facility design (floor plan).

■

Organizational chart, span of control, management
philosophy.

■

Current staffing plan, schedule, shift rosters.

■

Current staff work-hour information.

■

Number and types of critical incidents.

■

Personnel agreements, union contracts.

■

State and professional standards.

■

Applicable court decisions.

■

Latest inspection reports.

■

Service contracts in effect.

■

■

Problems experienced with facility operations in the
past year.
Issues to be addressed by a staffing analysis.

Collecting, analyzing, and logically arranging this
information for presentation will create a clear picture
of the current situation and lay the foundation for the
staffing analysis. Be sure to document all information
gathered. Keep this material for future reference.

Type of charges (traffic, misdemeanor, felony;
violent, nonviolent).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

7

STEP 2.

CALCULATE NET ANNUAL WORK HOURS

Many staffing issues and problems jails face—such as
high overtime costs, the inability to cover needed
posts, or the inability to free staff from their posts for
training—can be attributed to inaccurate calculation
of the actual number of hours staff are available to
work in the jail. This critical step requires collecting
and analyzing information that will provide an accurate depiction of the real number of staff hours that
are available to be scheduled for each full-time position in the jail budget. It produces accurate net annual
work hours for each position, replacing the older shift
relief factor calculations.
The term “relief factor” or “shift relief factor” (SRF)
may be familiar. These terms have traditionally
described the number of full-time-equivalent staff
(FTE) needed to fill a post or position that is relieved
(covered on a continuous basis). For example, a jail
might report that the SRF is 1.7 and that for a single
24-hour, 7-day post (24/7), 5.1 staff are needed for
coverage. This is another way of saying that it would
require 5.1 full-time officers (or FTEs) to be hired to
staff the post 24/7. This calculation (5.1) is derived by
multiplying the 1.7 times 3, which represents one officer on all three 8-hour shifts in a day for the one post.
SRFs are calculated by dividing the number of days
the post needs to be covered by the estimated number
of days that a classification of staff is available for work
during a typical year. For example, if the post must
be continuously filled 365 days a year and a staff
person is available to work 220 days, the SRF is 1.66.
The relief factor calculation usually considers the
basic categories of vacation, holidays, military, funeral, training, and sick days when estimating a staff person’s availability.
Several underlying problems associated with the use
of shift relief factors have produced serious shortcomings, which are usually manifest in the jail personnel
budget. For example, SRFs may assume that a single
shift can be used as the primary unit of measurement,

8

rather than using the more basic (and flexible) hour
unit. Furthermore, SRFs often fail to consider many
categories of time off:
■

Preservice and inservice training time.

■

Long-term medical disability.

■

Provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act of
1993.

■

Light-duty assignments required for injured staff.

■

Leave without pay.

■

Time away from the job while on special assignment.

■

Time it takes to fill a vacancy.

■

Jury duty.

■

Worker’s compensation time off.

■

Use of compensatory (comp) time.

■

Unexcused absences.

Some relief factors may have other shortcomings that
affect their accuracy:
■

The calculation was not recently updated.

■

Inaccurate or incomplete data were used.

■

■

■

Separate calculations were not made for distinct job
classifications.
Only time-off allowances from contracts or personnel agreements were used, rather than actual time
taken for the past several years.
Data were examined for only 1 year instead of several years, without considering short-term conditions
or long-term trends.

This workbook introduces net annual work hours
(NAWH), which replace the SRF. NAWH represents
the number of hours staff are actually available to
work, based on the contracted number of hours per
year (40 hours per workweek x 52.14 weeks per year
= 2,086 hours) minus the average number of hours

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

off per staff person per year. Calculating an accurate
NAWH will help control such costs as overtime pay,
because realistic and accurate figures will be used to
calculate the number of FTEs required to provide
needed coverage.

Civilian positions will also require a separate NAWH
column because they may not receive the same
amount of training and may have different amounts
of vacation or sick leave; other factors may also
determine their net available hours.

An accurate NAWH for each job classification requires
information on all possible time-off categories. Different
classifications of employees will have different NAWH,
because of the amount of vacation time or training
time that is allotted and used.

Some of the basic time-off categories that apply are
listed on the form, and blank rows marked “other”
are provided to add additional time-off categories
that apply at your jail. Complete each line of the
form. If an item is not applicable to the jail, enter
“NA” and continue. It may be necessary to convert
days to hours, as many employee contracts are based
on days (days off, training days, etc.). Usually 1 day
will equal 8 hours; however, if the facility operates
on other than a standard 40-hour week, remember
to adjust calculations accordingly. For example, a
43-hour contract week would yield an 8.6-hour day.

The staff coverage plan that will be developed in
step 4 will need to be translated to FTEs for budgeting and management purposes. To determine how
many people are needed to fill each post, it is necessary to calculate how many hours an employee in
each job classification is unavailable to be scheduled
for regular hours each year in order to calculate how
many hours the employee is actually available.
The total number of hours of coverage needed annually for each employee classification (also determined
in step 4) is then divided by the NAWH per employee
for that classification. This yields the number of staff
needed in the job classification. For example, if a post
is covered 24/7, or 8,760 hours per year, and a person
assigned to the post is available 1,752 hours per year,
5 FTE staff positions will be needed for coverage
(8,760 ÷ 1,752 = 5.0).

Instructions for completing form A
Form A (see exhibit 2) provides a format for calculating NAWH for each classification of staff. This form
is a revised version of earlier forms that have been
applied in correctional and other settings. It uses
hours as the basic unit of measure.
Complete a column for every classification of staff
for which there is substantial variation in the time
employees are unavailable for work, e.g., correctional
officer or deputy sheriff, sergeant, or lieutenant.

It is best to collect at least 3 years of data to develop
the average time taken off in each category.
Record the NAWH calculations in the appropriate
column on the staff coverage plan (form C) in step 4.
Note: Data may not be readily available for each timeoff category that applies. Do not dismiss the category
as minor or insignificant. Staff time away from scheduled work adds up quickly, and the larger the facility,
the greater the budget shortfall will be if you do not
have complete and accurate data. Collect all of the
data that are needed, no matter how difficult. Set up
new protocols to ensure that the data will continue to
be collected and will be available when it is time to
update NAWH calculations. The value of the NAWH
calculations depends on the accuracy and thoroughness of the research that went into the calculations.
It is easy to convert NAWH to SRF for comparison to
previous relief factor figures. Appendix D describes a
simple formula for making the conversion.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

9

EXHIBIT 2: Sample Form A—Calculating Net Annual Work Hours

1. Total hours contracted per employee
per year (if a regular workweek is
40 hours, then 40 (52.14 weeks = 2,086)

2,086

2,086

2,086

2,086

2,086

2. Average number of vacation hours per
employee per year

111

168

161

160

108

3. Average number of compensatory hours
off per employee per year

179

36

55

37

71

4. Average number of sick leave hours off
per employee per year

59

88

74

89

98

5. Average number of training hours off
per employee per year

24

24

40

40

24

6. Average number of personal hours off
per employee per year

6

9

5

3

3

7. Average number of military hours off
per employee per year

0

0

7

4

0

—

—

—

—

—

379

325

342

333

304

1,707

1,761

1,744

1,753

1,782

8. Average number of break hours off
per employee year (optional; it may
be a contractual item)
9. Other: [Specify.]
10. Other: [Specify.]
11. Other: [Specify.]
12. Other: [Specify.]
13. Total hours off per employee per year
[total lines 2 though 12]
14. Net annual work hours
[subtract line 13 from line 1]

10

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

STEP 3.

DEVELOP A FACILITY ACTIVITY SCHEDULE

This step involves identifying all the programs, activities, support services, and security functions that take
place intermittently in the jail and charting the times
they occur over the course of a typical week (7 days).
This step does not record continuous activities, such as
supervising inmates or booking and releasing inmates,
which will be examined in step 4.

Instructions for completing form B
The facility activity schedule (form B, see exhibit 3)
displays a typical 1-week period of jail operations. A
completed sample follows these instructions. Blank
forms are provided in appendix C.
Form B encourages the examination of daily and
weekly operations of the jail. If operations and activities on weekends vary significantly from those on
weekdays, complete two separate schedules: one for
Monday through Friday, and one for Saturday and
Sunday. Another option is to note on form B the days
on which each activity occurs.
In the left column, record specific activities, tasks, or
operations that occur at least once each week. Consider
the following list as a starting point. It contains some
of the activities that may affect operations enough to
merit inclusion on the form.
■

Shift change.

■

Formal counts or lockdowns.

■

Meal service.

■

Visiting (public or attorney).

■

Sick call.

■

Clinic times.

■

Administering medications.

■

Court appearances.

■

Commissary.

■

Outdoor exercise.

■

Education classes.

■

Counseling sessions.

■

Library hours.

■

Religious services.

■

Laundry exchange.

■

Inmate transports.

■

Inmate work activities.

After recording all relevant activities on the form,
enter the actual times and duration for each activity
in the next column. Activities that take only a few
minutes will look different than longer activities. For
example, inmate counts might be recorded as points
in time at 0600, 1400, and 2200, and visiting might be
recorded as a block of time from 1300 to 1600.
For each activity, shade in the appropriate timeframes on
the form, corresponding to the usual scheduling of the
activity. (If you are using a computerized spreadsheet,
this is usually done by creating a box from the drawing
toolbar and dragging it to cover the corresponding time
period.) If the activity is not a daily occurrence, enter a
note in the boxes to indicate the days on which it occurs.
When the form is completed, examine it carefully. Look
for periods of high activity. Read down the columns
that represent the time of day. Focus on times and days
that are unusually busy and those that are very light.
Determine if the weekly schedule needs to be revised to
redistribute activities from busy times to slower times.
Usually, important facility schedule improvements are
identified at this early stage of the process. Several types
of improvements may present themselves, such as
rescheduling certain activities to level out peak periods
during the week or changing policies and procedures.
The staffing implications of these decisions will
become apparent in step 4, when the staff coverage
plan is developed. At that time, the facility activity
schedule may need to be revised again if corresponding
staff demands are too high during certain times.
Revise the facility activity schedule as needed at this
point; then continue to the next step in the staffing
analysis process.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

11

12

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1400–1500
0900–1100

13. Commissary

14. Religious services

1900–2000

18. Clothing exchange

Indicates a time-specific activity.

Note: Activities occur Monday through Friday, unless otherwise noted.

0900–1100, 1300–1600

17. Exercise yard

16. Alcoholics Anonymous 0900–1100, 1300–1600

15. Narcotics Anonymous 0900–1100, 1300–1600

(Sat. and Sun. only)

1700–1800

0900–1100, 1300–1600

9. Visiting: public

12. Inmate mail

0900–1100

8. Sick call

0900–1100, 1300–1600

0700–0800, 1200–1300,
1700–1800

7. Pill call

11. GED classes

2300

6. Lockdown

0900–2300

0600, 1400, 2200

5. Inmate counts

10. Visiting: attorney

1400–1500

0600–0800, 1030–1230,
1630–1830

4. Inhouse classification
board

3. Daily meals

2. Court lines: to court
0530–0800
Court lines: from court 1600–1700
Video arraignment
1000–1100

1. Shift changing/briefing 0530, 1330, 2130

EXHIBIT 3: Sample Form B—Facility Activity Schedule

STEP 4.

DEVELOP THE STAFF COVERAGE PLAN

Now begin developing a staff coverage plan, using
the profile of the jail, including the operational philosophy and the floor plan of the facility (step 1); the
NAWH calculations (step 2); and the facility activity
schedule (step 3). The objective is to determine both
the minimum coverage needed for staff and inmate
safety, based on the fixed posts that are identified,
and the proper coverage for intermittent activities
that occur in the jail. Before starting the staff coverage
plan (form C, see exhibit 4), determine what the primary shift schedule will be. Changing the current
shift schedule may not be desirable or even possible
because of employee contracts. Note that a staff coverage plan is not the same as a shift roster. A shift
roster assigns individual employees to specific shifts.
It will be easier to complete form C if you start with a
simple list of all the posts and positions in the jail and
the hours of coverage each needs. Complete form C
based on the primary shift schedule and evaluate it
according to your facility activities schedule. Then
experiment with other shift schedules that might provide better, more efficient coverage. (This is discussed
further in step 6.) If analyzing an existing facility, list
all of the posts and positions that are currently filled
and evaluate them in terms of the level of supervision,
staff and inmate safety, coverage of activities, span of
control, and demands for overtime. A new facility may
present more opportunities to experiment. In many
cases, higher staffing levels should be considered to
provide safer or smoother operations, to reduce the
use of overtime, or to address specific problems. The
number of staff needed during a 24-hour period varies
based on the programs, services, and activities that
are occurring.

Instructions for completing form C
Each column must be completed to calculate the FTEs
needed for each portion.

Column A. List each post and position needed in the jail.
Column B. Identify the job classification needed to fill
each post and position. Does it require sworn staff, or
can civilian staff be used? What are the pros and cons
of using sworn staff for each post and for the jail as a
whole?
Column C. Determine if meal and break relief is
required. (Does another staff person need to cover
the post while the person assigned to the post gets a
break, or can the post go uncovered?)
Columns D–J. Identify the number of hours of coverage
needed for each post and position in a 24-hour period.
If more than one post is needed, indicate this by entering “16” (for two posts on an 8-hour shift pattern) or
“24” (for three posts on an 8-hour shift pattern) in
columns D, E, and F. Use the columns that represent
the current shift pattern (8-, 10-, or 12-hour, or other).
Column K. Identify the number of days per week the
post or position must be covered.
Column L. Calculate the number of hours per week it
must be covered (number of hours per day x number
of days per week).
Column M. Calculate the number of hours of coverage
needed for each post and position per year (number
of hours per week x 52.14 weeks in a year).
Column N. Determine if each post and position is
relieved. (Remember that some positions are not
relieved, such as the administrator.)
Column O. Record the appropriate NAWH calculated
in step 2 for each post and position.
Column P. Divide the number of hours of coverage
needed per year (column M) by the NAWH for that
job classification (column O) to obtain the total number of FTEs needed to fill the post for a year.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

13

14

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
G

H

I

J

Dep

Roving Officers

Yes

8

8

FTE= Full-time equivalent staff

TOTAL STAFF

112

32

No

Maintenance

Subtotal Civilians

8
8

No
No

8

64

16

8

16

8

Nurse

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Cook

CIVILIAN
Secretary/Receptionist

Subtotal Deputies

Dep
Dep

Central Control

Pod 2 - Direct Super.

Booking Officer

Dep
Dep

Pod 1 - Floor Officer

8

Dep

DEPUTY SHERIFF
Pod 1 - Control Officer
Yes

8

Subtotal Sergeants

8

No

SERGEANT
Shift Commanders
Sgt

8

0

8

Subtotal Lieutenants

No

No

104

24

0

8

8

8

64

16

8

16

8

8

8

8

8

8

8

0

72

8

0

8

0

0

56

16

8

16

8

0

8

8

8

0

0

0

Lt

F

LIEUTENANT
Assistant Jail Comm.

E

Cpt

D

CAPTAIN

C

Post/Position

B
Total Total Total
Hours Hours Hours
Job Meal
on
on
on 12-hr. 12-hr. Other Other
Class Relief? Days Nights Graves Day Night hours hours

A

L

M

N

O

P

Q

7

7

7

7

7

7

7

7

7

7

7

5

5

1,984

448

56

168

112

112

1,288

336

168

336

168

112

168

168

168

40

40

40

103,450

23,360

2,920

8,760

5,840

5,840

67,158

17,519

8,760

17,519

8,760

5,840

8.760

8,760

8,760

2,086

2,086

2,086

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

1,782

1,782

1,782

1,782

1,782

1,753

1,753

1,753

1,753

1,753

1,753

1.753

1,744

1,744

1,761

1.761

1,707

58.85

13.11

1.64

4.92

3.28

3.28

38.31

9.99

5.00

9.99

5.00

3.33

5.00

5.02

5.02

1.18

1.18

1.22

57

12

1

5

3

3

38

5

1

1

No. of
No. of Is Relief
Net
Total
Days No. of Hours of Needed Annual No. of Rounded
per
Hours Coverage for This Work
FTEs
No. of
Week per Week per Year
Post?
Hours Needed FTEs

K

EXHIBIT 4: Sample Form C—Staff Coverage Plan

Column Q. Round the total number of staff needed,
per year, by job classification. Remember, if you round
down, you may need to use overtime to provide complete coverage.
During this stage of the process, several types of
improvements and innovations may present themselves, including—
■

■

■

Explore these and other ideas as they present themselves. If they are feasible and will be implemented,
the staff coverage plan and subsequent analyses should
reflect them. Be sure to document these changes as
they are made.
Developing an initial staff coverage plan is a trial-anderror process, so be patient and persistent.

Rescheduling certain activities to level out peak
periods of events during the week (see form B).
Changing policies and procedures.
Combining or separating duties to create different
posts or positions.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

15

STEP 5. COMPLETE A STAFF SUMMARY
This step summarizes the number of staff needed for
each distinct job classification, based on the coverage
plan developed in step 4 on form C.
The staff summary (form D, see exhibit 5) describes
by job classification the information already calculated on the staff coverage plan (form C). No new information is presented on this form.

Instructions for completing form D
Space is provided to record the following for each
classification of staff:
■

Annual number of coverage hours.

■

Total number of FTE staff needed, as calculated.

■

Total number of FTE staff needed, as rounded.

Column A. Each line of this form should represent a
distinct classification of jail employee (e.g., deputy

sheriff, sergeant, lieutenant, civilian). Use the classifications previously used in column B on form C.
Column B. Record the total number of hours per year,
per job classification, from column M on form C.
Column C. This column represents the number of
full-time staff required to provide the actual hours of
coverage in the staff coverage plan (column P on form C).
Column D. Using this column is optional. It allows you
to record a number for FTE staff needed by job classification, rounded to the nearest whole number. Using
the nonrounded figures may require either the use of
some part-time staff or the assignment of full-time staff
to work extra hours to meet the odd fraction of FTE
needs. If these options are not practical or desirable, use
a rounded number (see column Q on form C).

EXHIBIT 5: Sample Form D—Staff Summary Sheet

A

B

C

D

Annual Number of
Coverage Hours
(Form C, Column M)

Total FTE Staff
Needed, as Calculated
(Form C, Column P)

Total FTE Staff
Needed, Rounded
(Form C, Column Q)

CAPTAIN

2,086

1.22

1

LIEUTENANT

2,086

1.18

1

SERGEANT

8,760

5.02

5

67,158

38.31

38

CIVILIAN
Secretary/Receptionist

5,840

3.28

3

Cook

5,840

3.28

3

8,760

4.92

5

Job Classification

DEPUTY SHERIFF

Nurse
Maintenance
TOTAL

2,920

1.64

1

103,450

58.85

57

FTE= Full-time equivalent staff

16

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

STEP 6. DEVELOP A SCHEDULE
Use the staff coverage plan to develop an approach to
staffing the facility that efficiently meets coverage
needs. Scheduling staff has been separated from determining coverage needs because substantial creative
effort is needed to develop an efficient and reasonable
schedule. It may help to view scheduling as a means to
an end: A good schedule will deploy employees in an
efficient way to meet coverage needs and will enhance
employee morale, job satisfaction, and job performance.

Creating a schedule
Scheduling requires decisions about when individual
staff will work. Staff scheduling usually follows two
basic cycles—7 days (traditional) and 6 days (4 days
on, 2 days off). F. Warren Benton provides a more
expansive treatment of organizational issues and
approaches in Planning and Evaluating Jail and Prison
Staffing (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice,
National Institute of Corrections, 1981). The standard
approach to shift patterns is a 7-day pattern, with
three 8-hour shifts each day. Benton describes five
additional approaches:
■

Four days, 10-hour shifts (4/10).

■

Flextime.

■

Shift assignment variation.

■

Part-time employment.

■

Split shifts.

Many jails use one or more of these approaches with
success. The 4/10 pattern may work for an officer
assigned to supervise an 8-hour inmate work crew; a
10-hour shift allows time to set up and wrap up each
day. Flextime does not work well for posts that require
continuity, such as a control center, but may prove productive for certain positions with varying hours, such
as counselors and assistant administrators.
Many jurisdictions have adopted two 12-hour shifts
with varying degrees of success and satisfaction.
Although it may initially appear that fewer staff are

needed to provide coverage, this is not true. Whether
deploying staff for 8- or 12-hour shifts, the same number
of staff hours is needed for complete coverage. A 12-hour
shift configuration may seem less demanding because
staff are scheduled for fewer shifts, but the overall
math—and corresponding costs—will not change.
Some jurisdictions moved to 12-hour shifts in response
to chronic problems with scheduling staff for 8-hour
shifts. Shortages prompted mandatory assignment of
staff to extra shifts, often resulting in a 16-hour workday when a staff member was required to work two
consecutive shifts. Staff often support 12-hour shifts
because they eliminate the option of working two
consecutive shifts. When considering 12-hour shifts,
administrators must weigh all of the issues and should
involve staff in the decision process.
Shift patterns have become more important in light
of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Garcia v. San
Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority (105 S.Ct. 1005
(1985)). In this decision, a divided court overturned
an earlier ruling in National League of Cities v. Usery
(426 U.S. 833 (1976)), which exempted most traditional local government activities from the requirements
of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The immediate result
for many jails was the restructuring of schedules to
avoid paying mandatory overtime. In November 1985,
Congress passed Public Law 99–150, which eased the
impact of Garcia, allowing compensatory time to be
awarded as an option but requiring it to be given at
the rate of 1.5 hours per 1 hour worked.
Many jails have explored shift assignment variations
and have found that rotating assignments too frequently (more often than every 2 or 3 months) is not successful because staff have difficulty adapting to new hours.
They have also found that flexibility in assigning
shifts offers a good management tool.
Many jails hire part-time employees. Part-time staff
can be effective in the right situation, but they are
often used inappropriately to reduce costs (because

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

17

they usually receive a lower base wage and often do
not receive benefits). As a rule, using part-time staff
for routine shift assignment should be avoided. Parttime staff can appropriately be used to fill in for regular staff when full-time staff are not available or to
meet needs that do not rise to a full shift level. Some
jobs lend themselves to part-time staff, such as assistant cooks or program staff. Split-shift assignment is
often used successfully for jobs that are routinely discontinuous, such as cooks (who break after lunch
until dinner preparation begins).
Shift pattern variations are virtually limitless. One
source of many examples is The Manager’s Guide to
Alternative Work Schedules—Second Edition, by W.L.
Booth. (It is available on loan from the NIC Information
Center, or a copy may be purchased from the publisher:
Institute of Police Technology and Management,
University of North Florida, 12000 Alumni Drive,
Jacksonville, FL 32224–2678; http://iptm.org).

■

■

■

■

Using different work schedules
■

Because a jail is such a complex organization and
staffing needs are often unique, adopting varied work
schedules may be effective. Changing work schedules
can be emotional and initially difficult, but it may
result in certain benefits:
■

■

■

Improved staff morale as job satisfaction increases.
Less turnover, less sick time, and improved quality
and quantity of work.
■

■

Financial savings due to the efficient use of staff.

Exhibit 6, a chart drawn from The Manager’s Guide to
Alternative Work Schedules, summarizes the descriptive
statistics for 21 different alternative schedules and
allows comparison of the features of each schedule.
The chart depicts work schedules that range from 8to 12-hour days. Such scheduling approaches as split
shifts and flextime are not included on the chart, as
they do not lend themselves to this type of analysis.

Evaluating alternative work schedules
When considering alternative work schedules, several
factors should be weighed. Benefits and costs are often
traded off as decisions are made.

18

■

Hours of operation and timeframes. While many
jail functions operate 24 hours per day, others may
have substantially shorter hours (visiting areas, public
reception, etc.). Examine each function of the jail to
find out if different work schedules would be effective.
Days operated each week. Many jail operations
continue 7 days per week, but others may vary. For
instance, a jail may operate an industry or work program that closes on weekends. Scheduling staff for
these functions might require alternative approaches.
Objectives of the organization. The goals and objectives of the jail may suggest appropriate scheduling. If
the jail places a high priority on inmate visiting, visiting hours might be scheduled at the convenience of
visitors, rather than staff. As a result, work schedules
might change.
Levels of activity. Different components of the jail
might require more intense staffing. For example, maximum-security inmates are more difficult to supervise
during outdoor recreation, suggesting the need for
additional staff. A creative staffing plan might provide
more staff for that function through overlapping shifts.
Employee contracts and labor laws. Any potential change in work schedules must be evaluated in
light of existing contracts and laws. Involving labor
representatives and legal counsel early in the process
is advisable.
Staff training. If it is difficult to provide inservice
training for staff, alternative schedules (such as overlapping shifts) may create new opportunities for this
key activity.
Fatigue and productivity. Research indicates that
longer work days decrease productivity, but that
corresponding shorter workweeks may offset fatigue.
Alternative work schedules must be carefully weighed
to ensure that staff are not overtired and less able to
perform critical duties.
Scheduling for different positions. Some new
jobs created in the jail may be amenable to, or even
require, alternative scheduling.

The decision to implement alternative work schedules
will ultimately hinge on the assessment of their feasibility and on whether the changes can be implemented
without too much disruption or negative reaction. The
rewards for creative use of alternative work schedules
are often great enough to overcome most potential
logistical problems.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

19

Days per Cycle
21
Cycles per Year 17.33

Per Shift
Per Cycle
Annually

Per Shift
Per Cycle
Annually

Full
Partial

Holidays
Vacation
Compensatory

Workdays
x Hours
= TOTAL

Schedule Work
Cycle

Number of
Workdays

Number of
Offdays

Weekends Off
Annually

Number of
Other Offdays

Compensatory
Computation

260
8
2,080

9
12
0

0–26
0–26

2
6
104

5
15
260

21
17.33

5–2
5–2
5–2

8
5

5–2
variable

260
8
2,080

9
12
0

34
0

2
6
104

3, 7, 5
15
260

21
17.33

3–2
7–2
5–2

8
3, 7, 5

3–2
7–2
5–2

273
8
2,184

9
12
13

6
14

2
6
91

6
18
273

24
15.17

6–2
6–2
6–2

8
6

6–2

262
8
2,096

9
12
2

8
14

2 or 3
7
102

6
18
262

25
14.56

6–2
6–2
6–3

8
6

6–2
6–3

273
8
2,184

9
12
13

14
0

2 or 3
7
91

7
21
273

28
13.00

7–2
7–2
7–3

8
7

7–2
7–3

208
10
2,080

7.2
9.6
0

52
0

3
9
156

4
12
208

21
17.33

4–3
4–3
4–3

10
4

4–3
3–4

218
10
2,180

7.2
9.6
10

10
18

2 or 3
8
146

4
12
218

20
18.20

4–2
4–3
4–3

10
4

4–2
4–3

218
10
2,180

7.2
9.6
10

16
12

3 or 4
10
146

5
15
218

25
14.56

5–3
5–3
5–4

10
5

5–3
5–4

10-Hour Workday

218
10
2,180

7.2
9.6
10

14
10

4
12
146

6
18
218

30
12.13

6–4
6–4
6–4

10
6

6–4

182
12
2,184

6
8
9

16
18

3
6
182

3
6
182

12
30.33

3–3
3–3
None

12
3

3–3

182
12
2,184

6
8
9

18
12

4
8
182

4
8
182

16
22.75

4–4
4–4
None

12
4

4–4

182
12
2,184

6
8
9

20
10

5
10
182

5
10
182

20
18.20

5–5
5–5
None

12
5

5–5

12-Hour Workday

Source: Booth, W.L. The Manager’s Guide to Alternative Work Schedules—Second Edition. Institute of Police Technology and Management, University of North Florida,
Jacksonville, 1989.

Note: The following definitions apply to terms used in this table:
Compensatory time: Reflects time earned (as enhanced pay or as time off) for work that exceeds the normal workweek.
Cycle: The total of calendar days necessary for one staff member to rotate through three shifts.
Holidays: Nine 8-hour days per year.
Vacation: Twelve 8-hour days per year.

260
8
2,080

9
12
0

52
0

2
6
104

5
15
260

5–2
5–2
5–2

1st Shift
2nd Shift
3rd Shift

Workdays and
Offdays Cycle

8
5

Hours per Day
Days per Week

Consecutive
Time Required

Shift Schedule

5–2

8-Hour Workday

182
12
2,184

6
8
9

26
0

7
12
182

7
14
182

28
13.00

7–7
7–7
None

12
7

7–7

EXHIBIT 6: Descriptive Statistics for Alternative Work Schedules

STEP 7.

EVALUATE, REVISE, AND IMPROVE THE PLAN

After an initial staffing plan has been developed,
it must be reviewed and evaluated to determine
whether it meets the needs of the jail and is achievable, affordable, and sustainable. The evaluation
process is also critical to develop support for implementing the staffing plan. Consider assembling a
brainstorming team to improve the initial plan.
Involve as many stakeholders as possible, put all the
deficiencies on the table, and start the discussions.
Remember—people are more likely to support a
plan that they helped create.
In many ways, the staffing analysis process requires
a trial-and-error approach that tests various operational
changes, organizational structures, assignment schemes,
and schedules. The evaluation process identifies problems
or deficiencies with the initial staffing plan; it will then
be necessary to return to previous steps. Responding to
identified deficiencies often demands a wider range of
changes than simply allocating more staff. Staffing and
operating a jail require creativity, and imaginative solutions to problems are essential.
As described in appendix A, creative approaches can
include the following:

20

■

Reallocate existing personnel.

■

Alter facility design.

■

Adjust the facility activities schedule.

■

Reduce services and programs.

■

Alter operations and philosophy.

■

Use audio or video surveillance equipment.

■

Use volunteers or interns.

■

Use civilian staff.

■

Use contractual services.

■

Improve productivity of existing personnel.

■

Provide more staff training and cross-train staff.

■

Change job descriptions and task assignments.

■

Revise hiring practices.

■

Streamline practices, policies, and procedures.

■

Reduce or modify inmate populations.

■

Use inmate labor.

■

Consider lessening “absolute” separations between
inmates.

Record all changes made during this process, including changes in the jail setting (operations, facility).
This will leave important “tracks” that will be helpful later in the process and in subsequent reviews.
Be cautious, as the changes made in response to a deficiency may create other problems. Evaluate revised
plans thoroughly. Use the results of secondary evaluations to guide further revisions. Continue with the
evaluate-revise-evaluate loop until an evaluation of
the staffing plan yields satisfactory results for every
jail component. Then it will be time to move on to
the next step in the process.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

STEP 8. CALCULATE OPERATIONAL COSTS
When analyzing an existing jail, costs for any changes
to the existing staffing plan need to be calculated.
The impact of these changes on the use of overtime
must also be evaluated. Staffing costs can represent
between 70 percent and 80 percent of the overall
operating costs of the jail. Using current budget figures
for staff salaries, develop an estimated budget based
on the staffing plan changes that are being considered.
The operational costs for a new jail will need to be
developed from the ground up. Reviewing the budg-

ets of existing jail facilities may be helpful. Start with
the staff summary (form D). Calculate the annual
salary and benefits for each job classification and then
multiply that sum by the number of staff needed in
each job classification. Total all of the salaries. If present personnel costs equal about 70 percent of the total
operational budget, then add 30 percent for other
operating costs (including facility maintenance, utilities, and inmate care). This figure is a ballpark number
and can be refined after the first year of operation.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

21

STEP 9. PREPARE A REPORT
A report must be developed that justifies
all aspects of the proposed staffing plan.
The report should be easy to follow and
include all of the completed forms, along
with a narrative explanation of their meaning. The content and organization of the
report should be appropriate for the audience for which it is intended. Some audiences want to see only the bottom line
(how much will it cost?). Others want to
examine all of the decisions and calculations. Assemble a complete copy of all final
materials, in successive order. Providing too
little detail is usually a mistake. Even if
some decisionmakers are not interested in
the nuts and bolts, it is important to provide an indication of the comprehensive
process used to develop the staffing plan.
The outline in exhibit 7 provides one
approach to preparing a comprehensive
staffing analysis report. Assembling this
report should be easy because it draws
from the work and forms that have already
been completed. Adapt the outline as
needed to meet the needs of the audience
for your report. Additional materials, such
as data collection sheets, may be attached
as appendixes as needed.

EXHIBIT 7: Sample Outline for a Staffing Analysis Report

Letter of Transmittal
Executive Summary
Table of Contents
I. Introduction
A. Purpose of Report
B. Reasons for Conducting Analysis
II. Staffing Analysis Methodology
A. Jail Characteristics and Issues
B. Staffing Analysis Concepts
C. Major Staffing Issues Explored [Customize this list.]
1. Overtime Usage
2. Net Annual Work Hours
3. Vacancy Rate
4. Lack of Meal Relief
5. Special Assignment Posts
6. Impact of Overcrowding [Include the current
average daily population.]
7. Physical Plant Impact on Staffing
8. Higher Security Inmates
9. More Transports Required
10. Lack of Training Time
11. Lack of Mid-Management Supervision
III. Summary of Findings
A. Profile of the Jail [Include trends in average daily
population, length of stay, and admissions.]
B. Facility Activity Schedule
C. Net Annual Work Hours
D. Staff Coverage Plan
E. Staff Coverage Plan’s Impact on Identified Issues
F. Staffing Needs
G. Operational Costs
IV. Recommendations and Implementation Plan
A. Recommendations
B. Implementing the Staffing Plan
Appendixes

22

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

STEP 10.

IMPLEMENT THE PLAN AND MONITOR THE RESULTS

Implementation will be much easier if staff are involved
in the analysis. Staff should be fully aware of the changes
and the underlying reasons for them before changes
are implemented. Once implemented, the staffing
plan should be continuously monitored; it should be
evaluated in approximately 6 months to determine
its effectiveness.
When problems are identified, it will be necessary
to revise the plan. When making revisions, remember that the process that produced the plan reflects
the complexity of jail operations; carefully assess the
impact of any proposed change on the rest of the plan.

Revising the staffing analysis and plan will also be
necessary when significant changes occur in the
context of the jail (physical plant, population levels,
employee contracts, etc.). Revisions may be made
efficiently by using the initial analysis. Before changing staff assignments and scheduling, review relevant
employee contracts to ensure that the changes do not
violate any provisions. If problems arise, a cooperative
effort should resolve them.
Review the plan periodically. Conduct a thorough
review and update NAWH calculations annually (at
least) to correspond with the budgeting cycle of
the facility.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

23

Glossary
Full-time equivalent (FTE)—A term used to translate staffing needs into the number of full-time staff
members needed to fill the required hours. FTE calculations consider the net amount of time a full-time
staff member is available (net annual work hours) after
time away from the job (e.g., vacation, sick leave,
holidays, training time) is subtracted.
Job description—A detailed statement of the duties
and responsibilities associated with a discrete job
classification in the facility, but not necessarily tied to
a specific post or shift (e.g., corrections officer, control
room officer).
Net annual work hours—A calculation of the number of hours staff are available to work, based on the
contracted number hours per year minus the number
of hours off per staff person per year.
Overlapping shift—A shift that extends into one or
two regular shifts to provide an overlap in coverage.
For example, a shift supervisor might have a 9-hour
shift, which begins a half-hour before a regular 8hour shift and ends a half-hour into the following
shift.
Position—A job not filled by any other staff member
when the person holding the position is not on duty
(e.g., secretary, classification officer, assistant jail
administrator). A position has tasks that can usually
be deferred until the staff member is available.
Continuous coverage usually distinguishes a post
from a position; a post has tasks that cannot usually
be deferred.
Position description—A detailed statement of the
responsibilities and duties associated with a particular
position in the facility. Also called a job description,
although used differently here.
Post—A job defined by its location, time, and duties
that can be filled interchangeably by different staff

members. Continuous coverage usually distinguishes
a post from a position; a post has tasks that cannot
usually be deferred.
Power shift—A shift that overlaps other shifts or is
substantially different from regular facility shifts. For
example, an intake officer might be assigned to work
from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. on weekends to coincide with
peak periods of admission.
Shift—A defined, recurring period of time to which
staff are assigned to work.
Staffing analysis—A comprehensive and systematic
process of determining staff needs (in response to
changes in the facility’s philosophy, operations, or
physical plant) and developing staff assignment patterns for the facility.
Staffing plan—A detailed schedule on which classifications of staff are assigned to posts and positions within
the facility. A staffing plan meets coverage needs consistent with local practices.
Standards—A broad term encompassing mandatory
and voluntary operating conditions for a jail. National,
State, and local standards provide important guidelines
for developing and evaluating staffing plans.
Supervision of inmates—Staff activities that involve
direct, barrier-free contact with inmates, including
conversing and interacting directly with them. Good
supervision allows staff to sense inmate moods, anticipate problems, and prevent future problems.
Surveillance of inmates—Staff activities that include
observing or monitoring inmate behavior, often
through glass barriers or by using audio or visual
equipment. For example, an officer may view a housing area or dayroom from an enclosed control station
or through a closed-circuit television monitor.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

25

Appendix A. Methods of
Optimizing Staff Resources
Staffing is the most expensive component of any jail
budget. Although there are times when more staff
positions must be added to the jail budget, there are
also many creative ways to optimize the effectiveness
and productivity of existing staff. The following pages
outline some strategies that jails have found useful,
under six categories:
■

Manage staff time off and overtime.

■

Improve staff hiring and retention practices.

Some jurisdictions have found that the use of sick
leave is substantially reduced when staff have an
incentive not to use sick time. Usually this involves
offering staff compensation for all, or part, of any sick
time that is not used. Because some staff view sick
time as a benefit to which they are entitled, they may
be calling in sick when in fact they are just trying to
“use it or lose it.” Providing other alternatives may
significantly reduce the scheduling problems caused
by sick leave.

Employ creative administrative and management
practices.

Manage overtime

■

■

Change operations and programs.

■

Change the facility.

■

Consider using technology.

These categories quickly identify the range of strategies available to managers and administrators. For
each of the elements in the following pages, additional resources are available through the NIC Information Center.

Manage Staff Time Off and
Overtime
Manage sick leave
When staff call in sick, administrators scramble to
find staff to cover shifts and often need to approve
overtime. By definition, sick time is usually difficult
to predict, but close monitoring of sick leave practices
and patterns may yield information that will help to
anticipate needs and, in some instances, to identify specific staff members who present special challenges.
Documenting sick leave activities builds an important
foundation for analysis and informed action. In addition
to simply logging the times that staff are out sick, it may
be helpful to document additional information, such
as the amount of notice that is given.

When full-time staff are asked to work beyond their
regularly scheduled workweek, overtime costs are
incurred. These costs represent at least a 50-percent
premium above the base pay levels of staff—in the
form of either a higher wage paid as overtime or an
increased amount of paid time off.
In some jails, staff routinely work overtime, and some
employees rely on the extra income it generates. For
the jail budget, however, overtime can be a disaster.
It is inevitable that some overtime will be required to
operate the jail, but there are ways to regain control
of the amount of overtime incurred.
The starting point for any effort to better manage
overtime is collecting and analyzing data about current
practices. Information about the circumstances that
prompted some overtime demands may be sketchy or
even nonexistent, prompting implementation of better
overtime reporting practices. Without solid data about
the circumstances that prompted the need for overtime and the steps that were taken to explore alternatives, efforts to improve overtime management will
be frustrated.
In most cases, the decision to incur an overtime cost
requires the specific authorization of a supervisory or

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

27

administrative staff member. Individual staff members
rarely have the authority to authorize themselves to
incur overtime costs. This offers a point of inquiry
and intervention for jail managers. Examine your practices regarding the authorization of staff overtime.
■

■

Who is authorized to make the decision?
What steps (if any) are they required to take before
authorizing overtime?

■

What alternatives (if any) must be considered?

■

What justification is required?

Consider each of these practices and consider tightening up the process. Perhaps fewer persons should
be authorized to make overtime decisions, or a list
of specific alternatives should be exhausted before
overtime is authorized. At the very least, you will
probably want to require clearer and more compelling justification for overtime.
As you analyze overtime practices, you may identify
clear patterns, such as circumstances under which
overtime is frequently incurred. List the situations that
most often result in the use of overtime. Then list specific alternatives that should be considered instead of
using overtime. These might include establishing a policy on critical staffing levels, below which staffing levels may not fall. It may turn out that not every position
or post of every shift is critical enough to warrant overtime, but this decision should be set by policy, not left
to discretion. Also, rather than assuming that the jail
will continue to operate without changes, consider
whether certain noncritical activities may be deferred
or suspended in response to temporary staff shortfalls.
Rather than automatically filling a vacant staff position
on a shift, consider whether jail operations can safely
and appropriately be adjusted instead. As you sharpen
your analytical skills, you can even develop a matrix or
decision tree that anticipates the majority of overtime
situations and identifies specific alternatives to be
explored before authorizing overtime.

28

need to be accomplished but have no funded position
in the budget. Special assignments can range from
staffing a new program in the middle of a budget cycle
to assigning a staff person to coordinate early releases. Other assignments include providing special training, conducting research and planning, monitoring a
new construction project, or working on a transition
team. If staffing levels are at a critical low point and
excessive overtime is being expended, it may be necessary to suspend special assignment posts until
staffing levels have increased.

Help staff with childcare needs
Many jail staff struggle with providing care for their
young children. Unscheduled absences from duty to
stay with a sick child or with a child whose sitter has
become unavailable contribute to the last-minute
problems of filling empty shifts.
The private sector has found that staff attendance, productivity, and morale can be dramatically improved
when childcare assistance is provided to parents. This
may range from providing daycare services onsite to
having an agreement with a provider who will take
sick children on an as-needed basis.
Analyze staff absentee experience related to childcare.
Talk to or survey staff about their childcare problems
and needs. Work with staff and the community to
develop alternatives that meet the needs of staff and
their children.

Distribute regular days off evenly
Staff often take time off to attend functions that occur
on the weekends or to spend time with family members who are off only on weekends. If staff do not get
any weekends off on their regular schedule, they tend
to take them anyway, creating a need for overtime.
When weekend days off are evenly distributed in the
regular schedule, staff are less likely to use sick time
and other methods to secure weekend days off.

Minimize special assignment posts

Plan and schedule leave better

Jail administrators often create posts for special
assignments. These assignments are for tasks that

Jail administrators have the authority, consistent with
the terms of employee contracts, to establish procedures to govern the scheduling of staff leave. Some

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

jurisdictions have found that carefully fashioned procedures can produce more even distribution of scheduled leave—by shift, by day, and by week. Procedures
may also limit the number of staff who are allowed
to schedule leave at the same time on each shift. Any
changes in practices and policies must be carefully considered and should be based on research and common
sense. Seeking staff input into potential changes and
working closely with their collective bargaining representatives are essential.

Minimize unfunded positions
As suggested earlier, some special assignment posts are
not funded in the budget. Other unfunded positions
can be posts that started out being filled on an irregular basis but are now routinely filled, even though they
are not in the budget. These could be, for example,
hospital security posts, court security posts, or transport posts. Sometimes these posts may be reduced
until ongoing funding is secured.

Improve Staff Hiring and
Retention Practices
Perhaps the most frustrating staffing problems that
confront jails result not from budget restrictions, but
from difficulties maintaining the level of staffing that
has been funded. Many jails routinely experience
vacancies in authorized staff positions, most frequently with entry-level staff. Hiring and retaining jail staff
have become even more difficult as unemployment
has fallen throughout the United States.
Maintaining a full staff complement is usually frustrated by varying rates of staff turnover. It is particularly
maddening to have invested the time and money to
make an employee ready to be deployed in the jail,
only to have that person soon leave the position. The
working conditions of jails certainly contribute to staff
turnover, but many jails have found ways to drastically reduce turnover, often without increasing staffing
costs. Many strategies have been found effective in
reducing staff turnover:
■

Improving recruiting practices.

■

Matching employee skills to specific jobs.

■

Increasing pay.

■

Enhancing benefits.

■

Providing opportunities for promotion.

■

Recognizing staff.

■

■

Implementing staff training and development
programs.
Providing employee assistance programs.

These and other approaches can substantially reduce
the staff turnover rate of a jail. In turn, lower turnover
reduces the need to recruit and deploy new staff.
Some jails have had success with efforts to keep all
authorized staff positions filled. Finding prospective
employees who may eventually be hired and deployed
is a lengthy and often expensive process. It may be
possible to shorten the time it takes to process applicants. Some jurisdictions have analyzed their past
hiring and turnover experiences and adjusted their
recruiting practices. In effect, they set out to find
substantially more staff than they are funded to hire,
knowing from experience that a certain percentage
will not make it through the process. This is not unlike
airline practices of overbooking flights.

Employ Creative
Administrative and
Management Practices
Changing the way that the jail is administered and
managed can relieve staffing pressures and increase
staff productivity.
Training is an ongoing activity for all jails, usually creating serious scheduling and overtime problems. Some
jails have found that scheduling training to correspond
to coverage needs can be efficient. Others have moved
toward increased on-the-job training and reduced preservice and classroom training. A field training officer
in the jail can train staff at their posts. Training provided as part of routine shift briefings can be efficient and
effective. Objective testing to ensure staff competency
can sometimes reduce the need to train or retrain
staff. Emerging training technologies—such as correspondence courses, computer-based training courses,
distance learning, and video-based training—can
greatly reduce scheduling problems.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

29

Scheduling staff, an ongoing challenge for most jail
managers, offers potential for improved efficiency.
Managers should develop and implement a schedule
that closely corresponds to coverage needs. Many
managers have found that using a variety of alternative work schedules, such as those described elsewhere in this workbook, can allow schedules to be
tailored to the unique needs of each jail.
Supplementing full-time staff with alternative sources
of assistance can be effective if it is carefully considered. Some responsibilities that are currently assigned
to full-time staff may be shifted to other people, such
as volunteers, interns, part-time staff, seasonal staff,
or peer instructors (e.g., an inmate who would tutor
another inmate in a high school equivalency class).
Creative job structuring sometimes results in greater
staff satisfaction and less turnover. For example, creating a job-sharing opportunity for staff who want to
work part time allows them to meet their needs while
keeping their valuable experience and training available
to the jail. Many jails are now cross-training staff to
increase their versatility and flexibility for assignment.
Closely examine current job descriptions. Do they
accurately and fully reflect the duties assigned to each
classification of staff? Consider updating these profiles
and use the opportunity to incorporate new ideas and
approaches. Some jails find it helpful to have civilian
staff for many jobs and tasks that do not involve direct
contact with inmates.

30

Change Daily Operations and
Programs
Staffing needs respond to many characteristics of the
jail setting. While some aspects of the jail are difficult
to control, others can be altered by jail managers. Many
aspects of the daily operation of the jail are subject to
change. When staffing is chronically short on certain
days or times of days, it may be time to rethink the
overall schedule of activities and programs for the jail.
Some changes may involve fundamental policies and
philosophies that are the foundation for jail operation; these should be considered with extra caution
and should involve input from policymakers and
stakeholders.
Rescheduling activities often presents the simplest
solution. Many inmate activities, such as visitation
and exercise, can be scheduled differently without
compromising the operations of the jail. Some jails
have worked with local judges and court personnel
to develop schedules that ease demands on the jail.
Relocating activities may result in more efficient
staffing. For example, moving an inmate program (such
as Alcoholics Anonymous) from a special room where
a staff member is required to supervise the meeting to
a housing unit’s dayroom may allow the existing
housing unit officer to supervise the meeting. Some
jails have even moved inmate work activities into
dayrooms.

Be a better manager. Increase productivity and effectiveness by providing staff with better direction
(policies and procedures), training, and supervision.

Consolidating activities may be an efficient option.
A multipurpose space might accommodate a variety
of activities—from reading to recreation—under the
supervision of a single staff member. Centralizing some
activities may reduce redundancy and replication.

Selective use of contracts has proven efficient for some
jails. Contracting for food service, medical care, and
commissary has become common in jails. Other programs and services can be provided through contracts
that may, when properly conceived and implemented,
reduce staffing demands and improve productivity.
Some cities and counties have even decided to contract the entire jail operation out to the private sector.

Reevaluating current practices often reveals opportunities for changes in inmate movement and supervision to yield efficient results. Consider whether current inmate escort practices are excessive (can some
inmates move from certain locations to others without an escorting officer?). Other practices can also be
evaluated and adjusted, such as food service delivery

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(can sack lunches be provided instead of using carts
and serving trays?) and separation practices (can some
currently separate inmates participate in exercise or
other programs together?).

altered, eliminated, delayed, or reassigned. Look at
other activities that chronically present logjams in
the operation and evaluate the procedures that contribute to the time required to implement each task.

Rescheduling such staff-intensive activities as external
transports can reduce staff demands. You can also
reschedule such activities as facility cleaning and maintenance to times with less activity and more available
staff supervision. Many jails implement their major
facility-cleaning activities on midnight shifts, when
staff are often underutilized. Inmates involved with
off-hours cleaning details are often housed together to
facilitate their sleeping schedule. Even adjusting the
inmate meal schedule can increase staff efficiency.

Some jails operate specialized programs, such as outside work crews or boot camps. These are often staff
intensive and may need to be reconsidered when
staffing resources become overtaxed. On the other
hand, some jails have secured funding for work crews
from the agency benefiting from the inmates’ work.

Delegate some tasks to other staff, or even to inmates.
Can inmates be responsible for scheduling their own
internal appointments, rather than taking the time of
an overworked staff member? Can a civilian staff
member in the jail office prepare a schedule, instead
of a housing unit officer? Can the control room officer
on the midnight shift enter information and data,
instead of an overworked intake officer?
Reduce demand for some services and activities through
policy changes. Many jails have found that requiring
inmates to pay a small fee for medical services results
in significantly fewer sick call appointments without
reducing the quality of care provided to inmates.
Anticipate peak periods of need by analyzing past
practices. Similarly, identifying periods of low demand
can be productive. If you know from experience that
inmate admissions will be higher at certain times,
staffing can be adjusted to meet the demand. On the
other hand, if there are periods of consistently low
demand, you may be able to reduce staffing. On a
larger scale, you may even be able to open and close
entire housing units or areas of the facility based on
fluctuating demands.
Streamlining procedures may relieve pressure on
staff at key times. For example, if booking staff
consistently have difficulty processing new inmates
without a backlog, examine every element of the
intake procedure and identify steps that may be

Finally, you may even want to look at the jail’s operational philosophy. Some changes in philosophy
may lead to operational changes that improve staff
efficiency. When examining this foundation of the
jail, remember that many parties have a stake in the
jail’s philosophy and changing it should involve their
participation.

Change the Facility
Too often, we forget that the physical plant can be
altered, often more easily than its operations. Many
jails have used selective renovation—something as
simple as putting a window in a wall—to dramatically improve staff performance. Sometimes it may be
as simple as changing the way the current facility is
used; closing a housing unit, reassigning an activity to
a different space, and similar use changes can also
make a big difference. One jail was having trouble
providing consistent supervision for attorney-client
contact visits. This activity was moved to the existing
noncontact visiting area, which had direct observation from a fixed control center, for contact visitation.
The attorney and client use the same side of the visiting area, rather than having the glass between them.
Many simple and inexpensive renovations can significantly improve staff efficiency. These changes can
address operational issues:
■

■

Observation—adding observation windows,
improving sightlines, creating an observation
room adjacent to an existing post.
Separation—increasing the ability to separate
inmates in housing and activity areas.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

31

■

Movement—providing more secure compartments
in the jail, relieving concerns about allowing
inmates to move without escort.

Relocating activities, such as fixed control posts, may
seem expensive, but these one-time renovations may
be more cost-effective than adding staff for the life of
the facility.
Sometimes it is just a matter of changing fixtures or
furnishings. Replacing a solid steel door with one that
has a vision panel can make a big difference in observation and sightlines. Improving lighting is another
way to improve observation and surveillance. Think
of your facility as a work in progress. Be aggressive
when analyzing problems and identifying opportunities
to adapt the facility to serve your operations better.

32

Consider Using Technology
Emerging technology offers promising tools to
improve staff efficiency and effectiveness. However,
technology rarely reduces staffing needs. Rather, technology can be appropriately and effectively used to
enhance staff performance and improve facility operations. Beware of salespersons who promise “staff savings” by deploying their new equipment. Courts have
ruled that such technology as closed-circuit television
is appropriate only to “supplement rather than supplant” staff.
Exhibit A–1 lists some of the current and emerging
technologies that offer potential benefits for jails, along
with examples of how they might be employed.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

EXHIBIT A–1: Emerging Technologies

Type of Technology

Possible Uses in the Jail Setting

Perimeter electronics (motion
detectors, buried sensors, etc.)

Reduce the need for staffed posts or towers on the perimeter
of the facility or on the grounds.
Enhance existing physical barriers, such as walls and fences.
Enhance other electronic surveillance devices, such as closed-circuit television.

Bar coding

Improve inmate identification practices.
Streamline property, evidence, and clothing inventory.
Enhance admission and release procedures.
Enhance internal movement of inmates and staff.
Provide new information and data about jail operations.
Reduce paperwork.

Closed-circuit television

Enhance internal and external surveillance.
Provide visual record of operations and incidents.
Deliver programs and training to multiple locations without moving
inmates or staff.
Record programs for repeated presentation.
Deliver information and programming throughout the jail from a single source.

Video conferencing
and visitation

Enable visits between inmates and attorneys, family, and others who
are off site.
Enable arraignment and other court proceedings without transport.
Enable telemedicine consultation.
Provide programs and training for staff and inmates through distance learning.

Telephone systems

Give staff portable phone capabilities within the facility and off site.
Improve and streamline phone traffic management (e.g., automated
answering and call-direction).
Reduce the need to supervise inmate phone calls by eliminating the
opportunity for abusing the privilege.

Security controls

Elevator controls can allow inmates and the public to operate elevators without
staff assistance.
New security control panels, such as touch screen, can increase the efficiency
and accuracy of staff and consolidate more functions in one location.
Transmitters for door controls allow staff to open doors without being at the
control panel.

Debit cards

Automate inmate financial transactions, improving accuracy and
recordkeeping in the commissary and reducing paperwork.

Computers

Improve overall inmate recordkeeping practices.
Streamline intake and release procedures.
Provide inmates with programmed learning opportunities that are self-paced
and flexible in terms of time and location.
Provide staff with new training tools.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

33

Appendix B. The Myth of
Staff-to-Inmate Ratios
Using a staffing ratio to compare one facility with
another or to determine a staffing level for a facility
produces inaccurate results. Many factors differ and
cannot be accurately compared:
■

■

■

■

■

■

Is the number of inmates used for the calculation the
actual number, or the rated capacity of the facility?
Which positions go into the calculation—security
only, or all positions?
Are contractual employees considered?
Are hours worked by part-time employees
considered?
Are hours worked by full-time staff as overtime
considered?
Are some staff (such as maintenance or nursing)
supplied by other county agencies (such as public
works or public health)?

In addition to these factors, the characteristics of
each jail need to be considered before applying
figures from one facility to another:
■

■

■

Type of inmates housed (level of security, gender,
age, etc.).
Design capacity versus actual population.
Activities and programs, such as work release,
work programs, education.

■

Facility design.

■

Facility condition.

■

Staff qualifications and experience.

Staffing is based on operational philosophy and facility
design. The most efficient staffing is possible when a

facility is designed based on an operational philosophy.
A facility with a program-oriented philosophy will
have counselors, program, and recreation staff, in
addition to custody and security staff. A facility
with a philosophy of “warehousing” inmates may
have only custody and security staff. If a facility’s
design is inadequate for its philosophy, staff may
be used to compensate for facility shortcomings.
Many design and operational factors will affect
staffing, including—
■

■

■

■

■

■

Whether the facility is designed for direct supervision,
indirect supervision, or intermittent supervision.
The types and size of housing units (cells versus
dormitories).
Facility sightlines.
The types of security control systems and security
perimeter.
Whether inmates are escorted through the corridors.
Whether programs and services are centralized or
decentralized.

■

Whether the facility is single-story or highrise.

■

Whether acceptable backup is available.

If people say they can build a 250-bed facility and
already know how many staff it will take to operate
it, do not believe them. Until a facility is adapted to
the unique population and practices of a locality,
staffing cannot be accurately determined.
Forget the words “staff-to-inmate ratios”; they only
confuse the issues.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

35

Appendix C. Forms
This appendix contains blank copies of all the forms
you will need to conduct a jail staffing analysis. You
may photocopy them as often as necessary.

Instructions for completing the forms and sample
completed forms are found in the step-by-step
description of the staffing analysis process.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

37

FORM A: Net Annual Work Hours

1. Total hours contracted per employee
per year (if a regular workweek is
40 hours, then 40 (52.14 weeks = 2,086)
2. Average number of vacation hours per
employee per year
3. Average number of compensatory hours
off per employee per year
4. Average number of sick leave hours off
per employee per year
5. Average number of training hours off
per employee per year
6. Average number of personal hours off
per employee per year
7. Average number of military hours off
per employee per year
8. Average number of break hours off
per employee year (Optional; it may
be a contractual item.)
9. Other: [Specify.]
10. Other: [Specify.]
11. Other: [Specify.]
12. Other: [Specify.]
13. Total hours off per employee per year
[total lines 2 though 12]
14. Net annual work hours
[subtract line 13 from line 1]

38

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

39

19.

18.

17.

16.

15.

14.

13.

12.

11.

10.

9.

8.

7.

6.

5.

4.

3.

2.

1.

FORM B: Facility Activity Schedule

40

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

Total Total Total
Hours Hours Hours
Job Meal
on
on
on 12-hr. 12-hr. Other Other
Class Relief? Days Nights Graves Day Night hours hours

B

FTE = Full-time equivalent staff

TOTAL STAFF

Subtotal
Classification 5

Subtotal
Classification 4
CLASSIFICATION 5

Subtotal
Classification 3
CLASSIFICATION 4

Subtotal
Classification 2
CLASSIFICATION 3

CLASSIFICATION 1
CLASSIFICATION 2

Post/Position
Post/Position

A

FORM C: Staff Coverage Plan
L

M

N

O

P

Q

No. of
No. of Is Relief
Net
Total
Days No. of Hours of Needed Annual No. of Rounded
per
Hours Coverage for This Work
FTEs
No. of
Week per Week per Year
Post?
Hours Needed
FTEs

K

FORM D: Staff Summary Sheet
A
Job Classification

B

C

D

Annual Number of
Coverage Hours
(Form C, Column M)

Total FTE Staff
Needed, as Calculated
(Form C, Column P)

Total FTE Staff
Needed, Rounded
(Form C, Column Q)

CLASSIFICATION 1

CLASSIFICATION 2

CLASSIFICATION 3

CLASSIFICATION 4

CLASSIFICATION 5

TOTAL
FTE = Full-time equivalent staff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

41

Appendix D. Converting Net Annual
Work Hours to a Relief Factor
Length
of Shift

x

Number of
Shifts/Day

x

Number of
Days/Week

x

52.14
(wks/yr)

Example 1

Example 2

1. 8-hour shift

1. 10-hour shift

÷

NAWH

=

SRF

2. 3 shifts/day

8 x 3 = 24

2. 1 shift/day

10 x 1 = 10

3. 7 days/week

24 x 7 = 168

3. 5 days/week

10 x 5 = 50

4. 52.14 weeks/year
times total hours/week

168 x 52.14 = 8,760

4. 52.14 weeks/year
times total hours/week

50 x 52.14 = 2,607

8,760 ÷ 1,600 = 5.475

5. Total annual hours
divided by NAWH
(NAWH is 1,680 for
this job classification)

2,607 ÷ 1,680 = 1.55

5. Total annual hours
divided by NAWH
(NAWH is 1,600 for
this job classification)

In other words, it takes 5.475 full-time equivalents (FTEs) to
staff this post. This might be a typical calculation for a controlcenter post.

In other words, it takes 1.55 FTEs to staff this post. This
might be a typical calculation for a classification post.

1. Identify the number of hours in the basic shift for
which you want a relief factor (e.g., 8).

4. Multiply this by the 52.14 weeks in a year (this is
the total hours per year).

2. Multiply this by the number of shifts per day (this
equals total hours per day).

5. Divide this by the net annual work hours (NAWH)
to produce a shift relief factor (SRF).

3. Multiply this by the number of days per week
that the post needs coverage (this equals total hours
per week).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

43

 

 

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